Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood and Bourbon
“Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve. But I am the opposite of a stage magician. They gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant guise of illusion.”
In addition to vampiric powers and human skills, characters have trait ratings in other areas (known as Edges) when they start play, from a "bump for languages” to a squad of loyal ghouls. Like everything else, we demarcate Edges with dots, usually ranging from one to five. There is no penalty for having zero dots in an Edge—that’s just normal. Few rolls directly involve these traits, although they often grant Advantage. Edges are divided into three categories:
Merits are advantages innate to your character, such as the ability to speak multiple languages, read omens and portents, or communicate with ghosts. Although something could happen in the course of play to change them—especially once weird inexplicable magic gets unleashed—characters’ Merits remain fairly constant over the course of the story.
Backgrounds describe social connections to other characters and the world at large: friends, family members, material possessions, social networks, and the like. Backgrounds help tie a character to the world around them, and to the path players ideally envision for them. A character can be the world’s greatest hacker, but they exist in a vacuum without any dots of Allies or Fame or Status. Backgrounds can also fluctuate significantly over the course of play: an ally can betray you, or you might strike it rich after starting out dirt poor.
The player should always rationalize how the character came to possess their Backgrounds, as well as what they represent. Who are your Allies? Why does your Mentor support you? Where did you meet your Retainers? What investments do you possess that yield your four dots in Resources? You don’t have to do all of that at first—but be ready with an answer when the Storyteller asks during play, or be ready to suggest an answer that ties into the ongoing storyline.
Shared Backgrounds: If two or more PCs share a Background between each other, divide its XP cost (if it was purchased with XP) evenly between each character. Each player gets to mark the Background on their character sheet and make use of it. If the characters split up, there may be opposed rolls to see who can claim the Background for themselves. If the Background was bought with XP, the character who claims the Background must pay the remainder of the XP it costs. The character who loses the Background gets the XP refunded per Sanctity of XP.
Flaws are the inverse of Merits and Backgrounds, and cause ongoing problems for the character, such as a supernatural curse, a group of enemies who plot your death, or a dark secret you wish you’d never learned. Flaws don’t have dot ratings: instead, you gain 1 Story Point whenever a Flaw makes you fail a dice roll or otherwise makes your character’s life harder.
Loresheets, finally, are lists of recommended Backgrounds, Merits, and uses of the Know Secret use for Story Points aimed at helping players develop ties to particular areas of the setting, or to realize a particular character concept.
You indulge in one or more old-fashioned behaviors, such as wearing anachronistic dress or using old-fashioned language. These behaviors may be comforting to you, but stand out to vampire hunters.
You haven’t been able to adapt to the present, or you have been long in torpor. You cannot use computers or cell phones, and your Technology rating is permanently 0.Other dice rolls involving modern technology may take Disadvantage.
Living in the Past
You haven’t grasped the modern mindset, or you just don’t want to. You have one or more seriously outdated personal convictions, e.g. “The Pope’s word is law,” “Women are delicate flowers,” “Lower classes exist only to serve,” or “Burn your enemies’ baggage.” These archaic moralities maintain your humanity but are odious to many; take Disadvantage on many Social rolls involving such archaic beliefs except with vampires your age and older, who may admire your steadfast virtue.
These Merits modify a vampire’s banes. Ones for the clans not listed here to come.
Alternate Clan Bane
(• or •••)
Effect: You have another bane instead of your normal clan bane. This can help disguise you as a member of another clan, or simply avoid a bane you find particularly vexing.
|•||Pick the severe version of any bane. You have this bane instead of your normal clan bane.|
|•••||Pick the normal version of any bane instead.|
Restriction: Brujah, Malkavians, and Nosferatu may not take this Merit. These clans’ fury, insanity, and hideousness are too great a part of their heritage to be so easily circumvented.
Prerequisite: Brujah, Blood Potency 5 or under
Effect: As long as you keep your Beast fed, you can keep it in check. You don’t take Disadvantage on frenzy rolls when you have Hunger equal to (6 – your Blood Potency) or less.
Effect: Reflective surfaces don’t agitate your Beast as badly as they do most Lasombra. Although you still don’t cast a reflection, you don’t ever risk frenzy from staring into a mirror.
Cursed by the Tremere
Prerequisite: Banu Haqim
Efect: By some quirk of fate, you were unaffected by the sundering of the Tremere curse in 2003. Instead of risking frenzy from drinking vampire blood, you treat it as poison. You slake no Hunger and take Injured at a penalty equal to (1/2 Hunger you’d have slaked, round up). Additionally, you suffer all of the drawbacks and gain none of the benefits from diablerie.
Drawback: Expect any clanmates loyal to Alamut to be intensely scornful of your weakness. Clanmates who’ve defected to the Camarilla may be more understanding.
Embraced without the Cup
Effect: For some reason you did not drink the blood of your elders when you were inducted into Clan Tremere. More dangerously, it may have had no effect on you. As a result, you are not bound to clanmates with higher Blood Potency the way most Tremere are.
Drawback: Should it be discovered, it will usually be corrected, but one might almost believe there was some purpose to this lapse, as the Tremere don’t make mistakes. Perhaps the clan has a special task in mind for you, one where you might be forced to act against the clan to maintain a cover…
Effect: You’re less distractible than the rest of your clan. Whenever you neglect to engage with a stimulus you find beautiful, take Advantage on the Rouse check.
Moments of Lucidity
Effect: You’re as insane as any Malkavian, but you have more good nights than most of your clanmates. By spending (6 – Resolve, minimum 1) Story Points, you can ignore the effects of your derangement for a single scene.
No Clan Bane
(••• or •••••)
Effect: By some strange fluke of chance, providence, or even the blessing of a higher power, you are unaffected by your clan bane.
Drawbacks: Expect your clanmates to either scorn you or be intensely jealous if your secret gets out.
Restriction: Brujah, Malkavians, and Nosferatu may not take this Merit. Tremere buy this Merit for only three dots, but are still partly bound to their clan unless they also take Embraced Without the Cup. Unlike the other clans, Tremere regard it as a mark of superiority to have no clan bane. Most warlocks with this Merit are tapped for recruitment by the Elite, a semi-secret society of Tremere supremacists.
Prerequisite: Hecata; cannot have Shallow Bite
Effect: Your kiss isn’t as agonizing as the rest of your clan’s. Vessels you feed from feel no more pain than normal. Feedings still count as one “step” worse for the victim.
Prerequisite: Banu Haqim; cannot have Unaccursed
Effect: Your skin doesn’t darken as your blood thickens like most Banu Haqim. You don’t take any penalty to Social rolls against mortals.
Rugged Bad Looks
Prerequisite: Nosferatu; cannot have Unmarred Face.
Effect: You’re hideous, but you can pass for a really, really ugly human. You might have a hunchback, warts everywhere, or a stench that never dissipates, but you can walk openly among mortals without breaking the Masquerade. You’re still ugly enough to take Disadvantage on non-Intimidation Social rolls, but no longer automatically fail them.
Drawback: Almost everyone you meet remembers you (and your hideous face). This can make it easier for hunters to track you down. Also expect clanmates to scorn you for your “good” looks. Take Disadvantage on Social rolls against many Nosferatu. Gaining Status among the clan may be harder.
Prerequisite: Hecata; cannot have Painless Bite
Effect: Your kiss is still agonizing, but it’s no more harmful to vessels than normal. Your feedings don’t count as one “step” worse for victims.
Prerequisite: Banu Haqim; cannot have Pristine Complexion
Effect: By some beneficial quirk of fate, you are unaffected by the Baali’s curse on your clan. Maybe the sundering of the Tremere curse broke the second curse for you too. Whatever the reason, you don’t ever risk frenzy from tasting vampire blood. Expect your clanmates to be intensely jealous.
(• to •••••)
Prerequisite: Nosferatu; cannot have Rugged Bad Looks.
Effect: Even if your body is a leprous husk of pustules or a monstrous chimera of fused animals, your face is eerily pristine. So long as your face is the only part of you that is visible, you only take a (5 – minus dots in this Merit) penalty on non-Intimidation Social rolls against mortals. One dot in this Merit indicates your face is horribly ugly but still passably human, while five dots confers a completely pristine and unblemished face. You might even look beautiful with enough Charisma dots.
By the way, this Merit and Rugged Bad Looks are as “attractive” as a Nosferatu ever gets. As soon as any other part of your body becomes visible, expect people to scream in revulsion as normal.
Drawback: The more attractive your face looks, the more your clanmates scorn you. Take a penalty on Social rolls against many Nosferatu equal to your Unmarred Face dots. Gaining Status among the clan may be harder.
Not all vampires (or mortals, or ghouls) respond to the blood bond equally. Some fall under the sway of a regnant with rapturous ease; others resist with every fiber of their being. You can combine these Merits and Flaws; a character might be a Bond Junkie with Short Bond, for example.
You bond instantly with the taste of another’s vitae; only one drink of blood binds you, not three. Either you begin as your sire’s thrall, or consult with the GM to come up with a reason that first bond has broken. Possibly your sire has been torpid, destroyed, or in another city for a while?
Not only are you blood bound, but you are also in thrall to a vampire who mistreats you hideously. Perhaps you are publicly abused or humiliated; perhaps your master forces you to commit unspeakable acts for them. In any case, existence under the bond is a never-ending nightmare, with your regnant serving to conduct the symphony of malice.
Blood bonds on you lose their bond strength more slowly than normal, and only risk decreasing after two rather than one story arcs.
Choose a single type of Kindred vitae, such as members of a particular clan or bloodline, diablerists, left-handed women, child vampires, or some other subjective criteria. One or more of your Bonding Merits either doesn’t apply to these Kindred, or you have one or more Bonding Flaws that apply to them and no one else.
All Bonding Merits cost double XP for ghouls and Tremere (and triple XP for unfortunate Tremere ghouls). The blood bond poses a greater danger to them.
(•• to ••••)
Effect: You can’t be blood bound by certain Kindred.
|••||You can’t be bound by a single vampire. This Merit is most commonly developed by thralls who’ve been badly mistreated by their regnant and slipped the leash, but it’s not universal. The bond can override even the strongest hate.|
|•••||You can’t be bound by members of a single lineage—one vampire and anyone up to three steps removed from them in blood sympathy. Alternatively, you can’t be bound by a single bloodline.|
|••••||You can’t be bound by members of a single clan. Tremere can’t take this Merit against their own clan.|
Restriction: Asking to take this Merit after you’ve been blood bound to someone in-game is cheesy.
Effect: You cannot be blood bound by anyone who shares your mortal bloodline. That is, if you were born into the Giovannini family, you cannot be bound by anyone else who was born a Giovannini.
Drawback: The Giovannini are extremely suspicious of anyone known to manifest this quirk. A Giovannini character who is discovered to have this trait probably earns their sire’s hostility at the very least.
Effect: You suffer no bonding effects from your first draught of Kindred vitae. It thus takes two drinks to bond you one stage, three drinks to bond you two stages, and four drinks to bond you completely.
Effect: Blood bonds on you lose their bond strength more rapidly than normal, and risk decreasing halfway through a story arc if not reinforced.
Effect: Your Blood rebels against control. Whenever you drink someone’s blood, you can make a Resolve + Composure roll (DC = would-be regnant’s Blood Potency + 1) to resist becoming an additional step blood bound.
Effect: Something in your Blood resists that final draught. Maybe you’re attached to too many people, or some part of you stubbornly holds out against completely submitting to another. You can be blood bound up to two steps, but not three.
Effect: You unconsciously cause a peculiar supernatural form of feedback through the links of the blood bond. Whenever you become blood bound to someone, they become blood to you to an equal extent. Even if your regnant was already blood bound to another, they now have the unenviable position of being thrall to two vampires at once. This can obviously lead to some unplanned and quite twisted codependent relationships.
Effect: You cannot be blood bound. You might be strong willed or pure of heart. Conversely, you may make people cross the street when you walk by them. Whatever the reason, you simply don’t get attached the way other people do. If you’re ever short of cash, you can probably sell your vitae to alchemists, too. You must pair this Merit with the Special Someone Flaw.
Drawback: If you’re a ghoul, expect no vampire who knows you have this Merit to want you as their ghoul, and for many vampires to want you dead.
Pete: It takes the bond out both as a positive and a negative aspect of the game
Derangements are behaviors that are created when the mind is forced to confront intolerable or conflicting feelings, such as overwhelming terror or profound guilt. When the mind is faced with impressions or emotions that it cannot reconcile, it attempts to ease the inner conflict by stimulating behavior such as megalomania, bulimia or hysteria to provide an outlet for the tension and stress that the conflict generates.
Many, many, many more derangements exist than these! The GM has simply had not time to convert them all, but will be happy to convert specific ones upon player request. Longer lists of derangements are available here and here. Plus here.
You are missing a portion of your memory. This might be as little as a few key minutes or as much as an entire period of your life is just gone. This can cause massive difficulties with friends and loved ones, or cause problematic things like forgotten arrest warrants or old enemies to arise.
You believe something that simply isn’t true—maybe you think that someone is poisoning your food, that a doppelganger has replaced your daughter, or that something lives in the shadows of your apartment. You can’t perform actions that contradict your delusion unless you spend a Story Point to come up with a (psychotic-sounding) explanation for why your delusion doesn’t apply to this specific situation. If you’re ever surprised by a situation that’s impossible to explain within the context of your delusion, you must make a Resolve + Composure roll (DC varies) to avoid accruing a Stain. Vampires frenzy instead.
Dependent Personality Disorder
Choose a single person. You are utterly dependent on this individual and resist making even the most trivial decisions for yourself. You take Disadvantage on all dice rolls opposed to theirs, and must spend a Story Point to undertake any significant course of action without their approval.
You suffer from persistent feelings of emptiness and discontent, especially when things don’t go your way. Whenever you fail to achieve a significant goal or roll a botch, you take Disadvantage on rolls. You also must spend a Story Point whenever you want to suggest an idea, give a command, or otherwise take decisive action. You can roll Resolve + Composure (DC varies) to break out of (or at least bury) your depression at the end of any scene.
Something terrible happened. Rather than deal with it or let it break you, your mind shuts it out. You are prone to blackouts and lost time. Whenever circumstances become too similar to whatever happened, roll Resolve + Composure (DC varies). On a setback, the GM controls your character until they get away from the area, and you don’t remember what happened during your fugue.
You are addicted to sex and lose a Story Point every day that you don’t engage in intercourse, as well as whenever you turn down a chance to have sex with someone you’d plausibly be interested in. You also take Disadvantage on rolls to resist sexual advances.
You are unable to control your emotions and suffers severe mood swings and violent fits. Whenever you roll a botch or are subject to stress or pressure, you must succeed on a Resolve + Composure roll to avoid fleeing or lashing out (verbally or physically) at the source of your ire. Vampires frenzy instead.
You are supremely arrogant and obsessed with accumulating wealth and power. To you, there are only two types of people: those who are weaker, and those who do not deserve the power they have and must be made weaker. You must spend a Story Point to turn down any chance to demonstrate your superiority or seize further power. If you ever lose to someone you perceive as inferior, you must succeed on a Resolve + Composure roll to avoid lashing out against the target or having a breakdown from shame and self-loathing (which is at the heart of your megalomania; you secretly fear that you’re a fraud). Vampires frenzy instead.
You focus your attention on a single repetitive behavior or action as a way to distract yourself from feelings of anxiety or inner torment. Determine a set of specific actions or behaviors that you follows to the exclusion of all else. You can negate the effects of this obsessive/compulsive behavior for one scene by spending a point of Story Point. If you’re forcibly prevented from following you obsessive/compulsive behavior, roll Resolve + Composure (DC varies) to avoid accruing a Stain. Vampires frenzy at the individuals preventing them.
You are prone to sudden episodes of extreme anxiety. Establish with the GM what triggers your panic attacks. When faced with a triggering stimulus, roll Resolve + Composure (DC varies). On a setback, you take Disadvantage on all rolls and must spend a Story Point for every action you want to undertake besides fleeing or hyperventilating. Vampires frenzy instead. On a botch, you fall unconscious—embarrassing at best, hazardous at worst.
You want to die. You must spend a Story Point whenever you want to avoid a situation that would put you in danger, and you can’t spend Story Points on actions that would get you out of danger.
These Merits relate to a vampire’s Disciplines. Available to vampires and ghouls only.
Alternate Clan Discipline
Effect: Pick a single in-clan Discipline. You can replace it with any other Discipline besides Blood Sorcery, which you make in-clan for yourself instead. This lets you gain dots in the Discipline and learn its Common Devotions on your own, without the need for a teacher’s instruction. Uncommon and Rare Devotions still require a teacher as normal. Clans can’t replace their “iconic” Disciplines (see below) and you can’t take this Merit more than once.
• Banu Haqim: Blood Sorcery (Dur-An-Ki)
• Brujah: Potence
• Gangrel: Protean
• Hecata: Blood Sorcery (Necromancy)
• Lasombra: Blood Sorcery (Obtenebration)
• Malkavian: Dominate
• Nosferatu: Obfuscate
• Ravnos: Obfuscate
• Salubri: Fortitude
• Setite: Protean
• Toreador: Presence
• Tzimisce: Protean
• Tremere: Blood Sorcery (Thaumaturgy)
• Ventrue: Dominate
(•••, ••••, or •••••)
Effect: Choose a single Discipline. You have a natural flair for it, granting the following benefits:
• If you’re a vampire, you treat your Blood Potency as one dot higher for purposes of Rouse check costs (meaning, you don’t make as many Rouse checks for Devotions with a dot rating equal to your Blood Potency).
• If you’re a ghoul, you can spend Story Points in lieu of Rouse checks for that Discipline on a 1-for-1 basis.
• If you’re a ghoul, you can learn more dots in the Discipline than your domitor’s Blood Potency, but still up to a maximum of 5.
• You can independently learn any Devotion for that Discipline (Common, Uncommon, or Rare) as long as you’ve personally seen another vampire or ghoul use it. At the GM’s discretion, you may also be able to develop original Devotions of your own for the Discipline more easily.
Special: This Merit is a ••• Merit for in-clan Disciplines and a •••• Merit for non-clan Disciplines. It’s an extra dot for ghouls.
You can’t take this Merit for Blood Sorcery. You can’t take this Merit more than once and there needs to be conceptual justification for it. Most elders with lots of dots in their clan Disciplines don’t necessarily have the Discipline Prodigy Merit: it indicates, rather, a natural rapport with and facility for the Discipline from a young age, and use of the Discipline should be a prominent part of the PC’s character.
(• to •••••)
Effect: Choose a single Devotion. You can use this Devotion as an innate supernatural power, even if you don’t possess the requisite Discipline dots to know it. You pay Story Points instead of Rouse checks, which high Blood Potency doesn’t reduce the cost for. The Devotion cannot be offensive in nature and should be an important part of your character. For example, a vampire who was a medium in life but for whom Auspex 4 is inappropriate might have Sixth Sense. (It’s also possible, if not probable, the vampire might lose their mediumistic gifts altogether until they develop sufficient Auspex. The Embrace doesn’t have to be fair.) Regardless, this Merit is not common, and most vampires who want to learn a Devotion have to develop its parent Discipline to the requisite level. This Merit costs a number of dots equal to the Devotion’s dot rating.
Drawback: You have a Flaw thematically tied to the Devotion, or make an existing Flaw more severe. The GM may keep this Flaw secret.
Prerequisite: Blood Sorcery as an in-clan Discipline. The Alternate Clan Discipline Merit can allow you to quality for this Merit.
Effect: Blood magic comes extremely easily to you. You don’t pay Rouse costs to use Blood Sorcery Devotions with a lower dot rating than your Blood Potency, and you only pay 1 Rouse check to use higher-level ones (rather than 1 Rouse check per Devotion dot), largely eliminating the need to cast spells as rituals to save on blood. This Merit is most common among the Tremere, as well as former mages who’ve been subjected to the Embrace.
Drawback: Your fixation with magical power comes at the cost of your other vampiric powers. You can’t ever learn Disciplines besides Blood Sorcery—except through diablerie.
Several different Merits and Flaws fall under the general remit of Feeding. A character with one does not necessarily have any of the others.
Your Hunger can only be fully slaked by the blood of supernatural creatures. (Alchemists may be able to thicken the vitae of thin-bloods enough to sate you.) You still can’t reduce your Hunger below your Blood Potency without supernatural blood, as normal: however, only killing a supernatural creature can reduce your Hunger to 0. Killing a human victim has no effect.
You can slake Hunger only by eating human flesh and organs, especially those rich in blood such as the heart, liver, lungs, placenta, and spleen. (Most organovore Kindred these nights make smoothies from the organs first.) Only the heart provides Resonance, if any.
You refuse to hunt a certain class of prey: drug users, women, children, policemen, innocents, a given minority or ethnic group, etc. If you feed on such prey, accrue a Stain. Witnessing other Kindred feeding on the object of your exclusion without interfering might also accrue a Stain, at the GM’s discretion. Ventrue with this Flaw gain an additional restriction, making their choice of vessels extremely narrow.
You feed primarily on animal blood. If you feed on a live human, accrue a Stain. Ventrue may not take this Flaw.
(• to •••••)
Effect: You are so fat that you can store more blood than most Kindred. Every dot invested in this Merit lets you reduce your Hunger to a “negative” level: a character with Bloat 1 is noticeably plump and could reach Hunger -1, while a character with Bloat 5 is massively obese and could reach Hunger -5. You don’t have to kill or feed on supernatural blood to reach Hunger 0, but you do have to do so to reach your maximum negative Hunger.
Drawback: Whenever you’re at negative Hunger, your skin blushes red as though burned, or visibly bulges, giving you a grotesque visage (Disadvantage on all Social rolls except Intimidation while in this state). Other vampires (and beings with heightened senses) can smell the blood trying to squeeze past your pores. This can incite frenzy in hungry vampires.
Effect: You can smell the Resonance of a human’s blood without tasting it. You still need to be within olfactory range of the person.
Effect: You can gain sustenance from human flesh and organs. It can be baked, fried, or even raw, and you can tuck right in. A fully cannibalized human body sates 20 rather than 10 Hunger. Smaller helpings of meat sate less Hunger. This is a Dark Deed at Corruption 4: even other vampires look askance at Kindred who devour their prey, though the Dunsirn applaud your respect for tradition.
Effect: You can draw more than the usual amount of nourishment from blood. You slake one additional Hunger from deep feedings and dangerous feedings. This doesn’t further harm the vessel.
Effect: Maybe you’ve been fed on by vampires a lot of times. Maybe you’re just naturally giving. Whatever the reason, you bounce back fast from blood loss. You recover from a light feeding after eight hours rather than 24 hours, and a deep feeding after 24 hours rather than 48 hours.
Drawback: Vampires who know you have this Merit will likely seek to feed on you more deeply and frequently. After all, you’ll recover soon.
Effect: You can feed from cold blood, rancid blood, and fractionated plasma without decreasing its “grade” from having high Blood Potency (normally, a deep feeding from any of these sources is considered a light feeding). None of these provide Resonances. Ventrue may not take this Merit.
Effect: For whatever reason (perhaps holy protection, a rare ritual, a genetic abnormality, or something else), your blood is poisonous to vampires. Kindred who feed from you slake no Hunger and take Injured -1 for every two Hunger they would have slaked (round up).
Drawback: Vampires naturally resent mortals known to possess this blessing and may well seek their destruction.
(• or •••)
Effect: You may suffer a medical condition that means you produce a higher blood volume, or suffer from a thickening of the blood caused by too many red blood cells. Or your condition may be completely mystical and never show up under a microscope. However it manifests, every Hunger you would normally slake in a vampire slakes two Hunger instead.
If you’re a vampire, this Merit costs three dots instead of one dot to buy for a Retainer.
(•, •••, or •••••)
Effect: You don’t stand out. You’re inoffensive and beneath notice on a mystic level. Details about you slip from people’s memories, you never seem to get caught on recording media, and records about you are hard to locate.
|•||You’re a little hard to place. People forget minor details about you, or forget you altogether if you didn’t make a memorable impression. Investigating your background and current activities takes extra effort. It won’t stop a dedicated search, but it buys you extra time. Take Advantage on rolls to foil mundane investigations.|
|•••||People struggle to give accurate descriptions about you and forget all but the most consequential memories. Investigations into your identity face serious hindrances as records disappear, papers get misfiled, and witnesses can’t seem to remember you or give a reliable description. Take Major Advantage on rolls to foil mundane investigations and Advantage on rolls to foil supernatural ones.|
|•••••||You don’t exist in all but the strongest-willed individuals’ minds. People either forget everything about you completely, or if pressed, give completely inadequate or misleading descriptions. Mundane investigations into you automatically fail. You take Major Advantage on rolls to foil supernatural investigations.|
Arcane doesn’t apply against characters connected to you through Backgrounds (e.g., Allies, Mentors, Retainers). You can also “turn off” Arcane against other individuals if you so wish. If you haven’t turned off Arcane against other PCs, they must succeed on an Intelligence + Composure roll (DC = 2 + dots in this Background) roll to remember you after interactions.
(•••, ••••, or •••••)
Prerequisite: False Identity •
Effect: People believe your False Identity and your real identity are different people. Choose which identity you want to present yourself as during a scene: even people who know you intimately under one identity treat you like a stranger if they don’t know your other identity. People can still discover your Dual Identities are the same person with active investigation and a reason for suspicion based on your behavior. Depending on their relationship with you when they find out the truth, they could question their sanity and suffer a nervous breakdown. Accrue a Stain whenever this happens.
|•••||Night-folk aren’t fooled by this power.|
|••••||Night-folk with equal or lower Supernatural Tolerance dots than yours are fooled too. Even supernatural senses and tracking abilities are baffled by your Dual Identity—a vampire who’s tasted one identity’s blood doesn’t notice any resemblance to blood shed by the other, and a werewolf scenting one identity doesn’t recognize the smell of the other. Night-folk can still discover the link between your Dual Identities with investigation and a reason for suspicion.|
|•••••||All night-folk with Supernatural Tolerance scores of 5 or below are fooled. If you have have 5+ dots in a Supernatural Tolerance trait, all night-folk with up to one more Supernatural Tolerance dot than you are fooled.|
Every player character begins play with perfect fluency in the dominant language of the chronicle setting: English for Blood & Bourbon. Many characters, though, can have a stronger or poorer understanding of linguistics than this baseline.
You cannot read or write. Your Academics and Science Skill dots are capped at 1, and you can have no Specialty in them incorporating modern knowledge. This Flaw mostly exists among older vampires.
True illiteracy is all but nonexistent in the developed world (among mortals, at least). Functional illiteracy, however, is far more common. You can sign your name and maybe read and write a few other things “by rote” that are related to your occupation, but anything past that is a challenge. Reading takes an Intelligence + Academics or Science roll at a variable DC.
Effect: You can fluently speak, read, and write additional languages beyond your native tongue. Rather than having a dot rating, this simply costs a variable amount of XP. If you buy this Merit with your starting Background dots, cash in however many dots you choose for an equivalent amount of XP.
For half cost, you can be partly fluent in a language. You speak with a thick accent and take Disadvantage on rolls with a language in which you have partial fluency.
|2 XP||Category I and II languages: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, etc. These languages have the most in common with English.|
|3 XP||Category III and IV languages: Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Persian, Polish, Russian, etc. These languages have less in common with English and don’t share its common roots.|
|4 XP||Category V languages: Arabic, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, etc. These languages are notoriously difficult for English speakers to learn.|
Effect: You are assumed to be fluent in any non-supernatural language that comes up during the chronicle. Take 1 Story Point whenever a language comes up that the GM finds it unreasonable for you to be fluent in (e.g., an extinct Native American language like Eyak when your background is in Indo-European languages). Even then, you take Advantage on any rolls to translate or communicate through a language you don’t already know.
These Merits affect a character’s physical characteristics. Some are unavailable to vampires, who suffer few of the frailties that plague the living, but most are available to all characters.
Effect: Your hair, skin and eyes lack pigment. You’re not exactly a vampire, but you take Disadvantage when exposed to bright lights and must be cautious about prolonged exposure to the sun. Your appearance also stands out to people. Albinos commonly have other Physical Flaws like Hard of Hearing or Poor Eyesight.
You have asthma. You don’t necessarily need to take meds every day, but if you exert yourself, you’d better have your inhaler handy.
Effect: You start to suffocate if you’re exposed to significant allergens or airborne pollutants, or have to make a number of Strength– or Stamina–based rolls equal to your Stamina score within the same scene. Suffocating inflicts the Injured Condition and increases its penalties by -1 after every few seconds, up to a maximum of -5. Using an inhaler reduces Injured’s penalties to 0 after some time to rest. If you’re missing your inhaler, another character can also administer first aid with a Dexterity + Medicine roll (DC = Injured’s penalties + 1).
Effect: You may only see a portion of the color spectrum or, in more severe cases, in varying shades of gray. Determine the specifics when you acquire this Flaw. Certain sight-based rolls where your colorblindness may impede you take Disadvantage.
You have limited or no ability to walk. Foot chases are impossible and you must rely on a wheelchair or other device to travel without crawling on your hands. A manual wheelchair imposes Major Disadvantage on foot chases and requires use of your hands. Electric wheelchairs reduce this penalty to Disadvantage and allow the free use of your hands. An injury can cause this Flaw temporarily, in which case it goes away when the injury heals and you regain mobility.
Hard of Hearing
Effect: You have poor hearing and take Disadvantage on sound-based Perception rolls unless you wear a hearing aid.
You suffer from hemophilia. If cut, you will not stop bleeding without medical help.
Effect: If you ever take the Injured Condition, you increase its penalties by -1 every couple minutes until your wound is dressed to stop the bleeding. This requires an Intelligence + Medicine roll, DC = Injured’s penalties + 1, with Disadvantage if you’re treating your own wound. Any vampire who bites you may “dress” such wounds by licking the injury closed.
Effect: You have only one eye and take Disadvantage on sight-based Perception rolls and any other rolls involving depth perception.
Effect: You have only one hand and take Disadvantage on rolls for tasks requiring two hands. Prosthetics and time spent living with this Flaw can limit the circumstances it applies to.
Effect: You have poor vision and take Disadvantage on sight-based Perception rolls unless you wear glasses or contacts. Reading and other visually tricky tasks require Perception rolls without glasses or contacts.
Effect: One of your senses no longer works. You might be blind, deaf, or unable to smell or taste. Having no sense of touch is a bit more difficult to explain. You automatically fail all Perception rolls dependent on that sense. Some rolls may take Disadvantage instead. With time, you may grow accustomed to these drawbacks and take penalties under fewer circumstances.
(Flaw or •)
Effect: You are incapable of having children, even if you do not realize it. Note that this Flaw is unlikely to earn you a lot of Story Points unless you’re expected to produce offspring. Characters for whom sterility is a benefit purchase this as a one-dot Merit.
Effect: One of your senses is incredibly sharp. It is not necessarily supernatural but is clearly superior to that of normal humans. Take Advantage on rolls with this sense. You can take this Merit multiple times.
Drawback: You take Disadvantage on rolls to resist harm by attacks that target that sense.
Effect: You suffer from the genetic disorder CIPA. You cannot feel pain and never take penalties from the Injured Condition. Among other benefits, physical torture doesn’t faze you, and you can ignore extreme weather conditions.
Drawback: You can still get hurt. Worse, it’s hard to tell. You still risk dying when you reach Injured -6, but the GM keeps track of the Injured Condition for you in secret. You can make Wits + Composure rolls to notice whenever you get hurt (if it isn’t obvious), or Wits + Medicine rolls to “check yourself” and ascertain how hurt you are in general terms.
Effect: You are massive. You’re seven feet tall or bigger, and crowds part when you approach. You can raise your Strength and Stamina scores as high as 6 (though this Merit does not raise them that high by itself). Raising a five-dot Attribute to six dots costs 30 XP. You also take Advantage on rolls where your size would benefit you, such as Brawl rolls to grapple someone, or many Intimidation rolls.
Drawback: Take Disadvantage on rolls where your size would impede you, such as many Stealth rolls. Your appearance also stands out in a crowd (literally) and people easily remember you.
Prerequisite: Non-vampire, Stamina •••
Effect: You can eat almost anything, under almost any conditions. Greasy bacon and runny eggs on a raging hangover? No problem. The green meat in the fridge? No problem. Milk two weeks past its expiration date? No problem. You could be dropped in the middle of the forest and could live off bugs and roots as long as necessary in order to survive—and with no ill effects.
Embraced characters frequently convert this Merit to Iron Palette.
Effect: You need less sleep than most people and can subsist on four rather than eight hours per night without ill effect. You also take Advantage on rolls to resist sleep (including supernaturally induced sleep).
Effect: The moon has an unusually strong effect on you. During periods of the new moon, your Physical Attributes decrease by one dot. During a gibbious moon, they stay the same. During a half moon, they increase by one dot. During a gibbious moon, they increase by two dots. During a full moon, they increase by three dots. Your Attributes can’t fall below 1 or increase above 5.
Effect: Choose a single poison, such as snake venom. By gradually self-administering non-lethal amounts, you’ve rendered yourself immune to this poison.
Your healing abilities are remarkable, allowing you to bounce back quickly from injuries that would leave most people bedridden for weeks.
Prerequisite: Non-vampire, Stamina ••••
Effect: You reduce penalties from the Injured Condition by −1 with every 24 hours of bed rest. In five days, you’re perfectly recovered from injuries that would leave you on the brink of death. If you receive medical care in a proper hospital, you reduce penalties by −1 after every 12 hours—though doctors and nurses may be fairly baffled.
Effect: You can expel things you’ve eaten at will. This messy and disgusting ability is useful if you’re in the habit of using your digestive tract for storage space. Anything brought back from the pit of your stomach is mixed with partially digested food and bile.
Effect: You produce no scent, or your scent is extremely faint. You are hard to track by werewolves or other hunters who use scent. Any attempts to do so through mundane means automatically fail. Attempts to track you through supernatural means take Disadvantage.
Effect: You’re physically small—four feet tall or shorter. Take Advantage on rolls to hide, go unnoticed, or otherwise benefit from your size.
Drawback: Take Disadvantage on rolls where your size would impede you, such as Brawl rolls to grapple an average-sized person, or many Intimidation rolls. People may also take you less seriously.
Prerequisite: Non-vampire, Athletics ••
Effect: You’re practiced at holding your breath for long periods of time. You might be a pearl diver or escape artist, capable of staying underwater without aid for longer than most people believe is possible. Take Advantage on rolls to hold your breath.
Prerequisite: Non-vampire, Stamina •••
Effect: You have Advantage on rolls resist the effects of drugs, poisons and toxins. Your body is capable of withstanding high levels of chemicals without suffering any ill effects. You’ve probably never had a case of food poisoning, much less a hangover.
Drawback: Your body can’t tell the difference between recreational toxins and intentional ones. It’s very difficult for you to become intoxicated, whether from alcohol, nicotine or other drugs. Also, painkillers and anesthetics are only half as effective as normal. Take Disadvantage on any applicable rolls.
Most mortals can take psychic powers.
Lesser night-folk (e.g., ghouls, kinfolk) may be able take psychic powers with GM permission, but frequently find their mental gifts twisted by their condition. The GM may let the player pick a Flaw to represent this or have a Flaw spontaneously manifest in-game. For example, a ghoul at high Craving might find their powers behaving more erratically. It is very hard for lesser night-folk to develop new psychic powers, and some may lose their gifts altogether.
True night-folk (e.g., vampires, mages, werewolves) cannot take psychic powers. Psychics who are Embraced, Awakened, etc. may convert their powers into analogous ones (e.g., a psychic with Telepathy might develop the Auspex Devotion for Read Thoughts), or simply may lose them altogether.
Costs: Most psychic powers cost Story Points to use. A psychic who runs out of Story Points can accrue a Stain or accept the Injured Condition to continue to use their powers as they push their body or soul to its limits.
(• to •••••)
Effect: Supernatural deception doesn’t work on you. You see through the lies. When faced with a supernatural power that would deceive your senses, you can roll double your dots in this Merit on a Clash of Wills not to be affected by the power.
Drawback: Seeing the truth in a way no other person does may accrue Stains.
Effect: You can show people visions. You might do so with props like tarot cards or crystal balls, or you might just do so by touch alone. The visions appear in their mind’s eye and can depict anything you can imagine: the visions might be insights you’ve received from other psychic powers or they might be completely made up.
Dice Pool: (variable Attribute) + Subterfuge roll to fool people with a false vision. Take Disadvantage if they aren’t expecting you to demonstrate such abilities, and Major Disadvantage if they actively believe you’re a fraud.
DC: (1/2 subject’s [Wits + Empathy or Subterfuge]) + 1.
Drawback: When you’re hurt or upset, roll Resolve + Composure (DC varies by situation) to resist using this power involuntarily on a random person. You can’t choose what you show to them.
Effect: You can project your senses to another location. You see, hear, smell, and otherwise experience the other place as if you were there.
Cost: 1 Story Point
Drawback: Determine how you are able to scry. It may be through a crystal ball, through a drug-induced trance, with esoteric computer models, or any other reasonable method. You cannot scry without that tool or methodology.
Effect: You recognize whenever you are dreaming and are rarely troubled by any but the most terrifying of mundane nightmares. You can also control your own dreams, subtly shaping them according to your desires. You can perform all the automatic feats available to lucid dreamers, and even gave the ability to use the Analyze Dream and Alter Dream dream riding techniques. You can only perform these in your own dreams, and cannot use any other dream riding techniques. See this page for the full (and in need of conversion) lucid dreaming rules.
Effect: By envisioning someone in your head, you can talk to them as if you were next to them. They have to be in the same city. This power isn’t telepathy—they can physically hear your voice, and so can anyone nearby. The person you’ve contacted can verbally reply back. Many mortals are likely to react with fear and/or question their own sanity when they hear an invisible voice.
Cost: 1 Story Point per message of dialogue. The GM may charge extra for overly long messages.
Drawback: When you’re hurt or upset, roll Resolve + Composure (DC varies by situation) to resist using this power involuntarily on a random person. You can’t choose what you say to them, and it matches your distraught state of mind. This use of Paravocalization is free.
Effect: You can predict the future. You might do so through tarot cards, dream interpretation, entrail readings, or any number of other divinatory methods. Ask a question about the future or state a subject you want to divine the future of.
Cost: 1 Story Point, plus 1 additional Story Point per previous time you’ve used Precognition in the same chapter. If you use this power to predict metagame knowledge you’re aware of but your PC isn’t, pay 1 extra Story Point per DC.
Dice Pool: (Intelligence or Wits) + Occult
DC: Varies by how distant the predicted future is. Every success that meets or exceeds the DC provides one actionable hint, clue, or other piece of information. This may or may not reveal the future in its entirety: the more significant the topic and/or distant the future, the more likely answers are to be cloaked in symbolism and metaphor. Some predicted futures (e.g., “Who will become prince after Vidal enters torpor?") may be so cryptic that no amount of successes can fully puzzle out an answer. Modest predictions (e.g., “Will this coin toss turn up heads or tails?”) are the most likely to receive clear and unambiguous answers.
Drawback: When you stare into the Beyond, the Beyond stares back. The future isn’t always kind, either. Dark enough future visions may prompt Resolve + Composure rolls to avoid involuntary Corruption.
Effect: You are automatically aware of any psychic activity within speaking distance of yourself; this includes the vampiric Discipline of Auspex. With an Intelligence + Wits roll, you can spend successes to ask the GM questions about it (e.g., who it came from, what it does).
Effect: You can kill with a thought.
Cost: 1 Story Point
Dice Pool: (Intelligence or Wits) + Resolve.
DC: (1/2 victim’s [Stamina + Supernatural Tolerance]) + 1. On a success, a mortal victim suffers a heart failure, stroke, aneurysm, or other innocuous-seeming cause of death, and dies if they don’t receive immediate first aid. Night-folk take Injured at a penalty equal to (rolled successes – DC + 1). On a setback, mortal victims may still die, but in a gory and inexplicable fashion. Non-living creatures, such as ghosts and vampires, are immune to this power.
Drawback: Whenever someone upsets you, roll Resolve + Composure (DC varies by situation). On a setback, you involuntarily use Psychic Hemorrhage on them.
(• to •••••)
Effect: You can move objects with your mind as if you had a Strength score equal to double your Telekinesis dots. By accepting Injured -1, you can move objects as if your Strength score was one dot higher. You can do this multiple times. Fine manipulation is impossible with this power. If you attack someone, roll (Intelligence or Wits) + Resolve for the dice pool.
Cost: 1 Story Point
Drawback: Whenever you’re upset, roll Resolve + Composure (DC varies by situation). On a setback, you involuntarily attack whatever’s upset you with Telekinesis. This doesn’t cost Story Points.
Effect: You can read minds.
Cost: 1 Story Point
Dice Pool: (Intelligence or Wits) + Empathy.
DC: (1/2 target’s [Composure + Supernatural Tolerance]) + 1. On a success, you find out one thought immediately on the target’s mind. You can spend extra successes to get more information or find out other thoughts. This power doesn’t work against night-folk unless you accept (1 Stain per night-folk’s Supernatural Tolerance).
Drawback: Whenever you meet someone for the first time, you involuntarily use Telepathy on them. The GM can also have his power trigger at other dramatic moments. Always knowing what people are really thinking can be a curse.
You have an addiction to a substance besides blood. Kindred with this Merit or Flaw seek blood containing that substance, drinking from users. Addiction to a specific sort of blood or refusing to drink blood containing a given substance both count as Prey Exclusion. Kindred can become drunk or high from drinking substance-laced blood.
At the start of a chapter, you take Disadvantage on all rolls until you indulge your addiction. Rolls that will immediately obtain your drug don’t take Disadvantage. You also suffer the effects of the Addiction Flaw.
Whenever you have a chance to indulge your addiction and don’t, lose a Story Point. Also lose a Story Point when you go a chapter without indulging your addiction.
Effect: You add one die to any one category of pool (specify when you choose which substance you use) when the last person you fed from was on your drug.
Misc. Merits (All)
These Merits don’t fall into any of the above categories. Open to all characters.
You are spectacularly bad at a single Skill. You can’t purchase dots in it and roll only a single die for rolls with it, no matter what your Attribute dots are.
Effect: You are a cold fish and not easily impressed. You’re immune to supernatural powers that manipulate emotions, such as vampiric Presence, a witch’s charms, or a ghost’s powers of fright. Against powers with a dot rating equal or higher than your Composure, you have Advantage instead of being immune.
Special: This Merit costs 10 extra XP if you have a Supernatural Tolerance trait besides Awareness, and an additional 10 XP for every dot above zero. It is primarily intended for mortal characters.
Effect: You share an unusually strong connection with another person. Your connection might be psychic or perhaps more spiritual in nature. Such bonds usually form between twins or close siblings but an actual blood relation is not required. You take Advantage on many Social rolls against your sibling and can roll wits + Empathy to know what your sibling is feeling at the time, regardless of distance. Your sibling can choose to block this, but it’s obvious to you.
Flaw: You take Disadvantage on Intimidation and Subterfuge rolls against your sibling. They know you too well to be deceived. They can also sense what you’re feeling, and it’s equally obvious if you block them out. This Merit can also be lost if one of you is killed or Embraced.
Effect: You know the secrets of city-walking. When you’re in a city you know well, you can walk down a street or sidewalk and reappear along any other street or sidewalk in the same city. This power isn’t instantaneous teleportation: rather, you disappear into crowds, duck down alleys or sudden turns, and anyone who’s following you figures they couldn’t keep up. If you’re being followed, you must succeed on a dice roll (pool and DC varies by situation) before you can use this Merit. On a setback, you might still escape, but re-emerge somewhere dangerous.
Effect: You have a second mouth somewhere on your body that whispers secrets to you. Whenever you meet someone new or visit a new place, you may ask three questions to the GM or a character’s player. The mouth answers two of them, but one of its answers is a lie. The mouth also warns you of imminent danger, granting Advantage on rolls to detect ambushes.
Drawback: Aside from being unsettling to look at, the mouth is constantly hungry. It needs food every hour or it’ll begin crying loudly, imposing Disadvantage on rolls that require concentration.
Font of Life
Effect: You are a wellspring of life and vitality. This has several benefits:
• Your lifeforce is so strong that you recover one level of Injured per 12 hours. You don’t need to receive receive bed rest to enjoy this benefit—you can be starved, beaten, and tortured, and the spark of life within you will refuse to gutter out. You never risk developing Flaws as long-term complications from physical injuries.
• If you ever fall to Injured -5, you take Advantage on rolls to resist falling unconscious. If you pass out, you never risk dying without first aid. You still die at Injured -6.
• When you are at full health, you may share your vitality with others through the power of your touch. Anyone whose bedside you tend to automatically recovers one Injured level per 24 hours.
Drawback: Unfortunately, vampires find your blood particularly strong and tasty: twice as potent as that of other mortals, in fact. For every level of Hunger a vampire would slake from you, they slake two Hunger instead. Given how fast you also recover, vampires look at you in the same manner as an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Effect: You can open avernian gates: portals to the Underworld. All you need to do is touch the gate and spend 1 Story Point. The gateway to the Underworld remains open for several minutes. This Merit doesn’t enable you to detect avernian gates, but characters who can already see ghosts can see avernian gates too.
Drawback: If word of your talents gets out, you can expect various supernatural factions to want you enslaved or dead in very short order.
Effect: You possess an unyielding sense of self. You’re immune to supernatural powers that control your mind, such as vampiric Dominate, a mage’s mind control spell, or a psychic’s hypnosis. Against powers with a dot rating equal or higher than your Resolve, you have Advantage instead of being immune.
Special: This Merit costs 10 extra XP if you have a Supernatural Tolerance trait besides Awareness, and an additional 10 XP for every dot above zero. It is primarily intended for mortal characters.
Effect: Fate has granted you the opportunity to come as close to death as anyone can get and still survive. When you get a result on a dice roll that would result in your demise, re-roll it. If the next roll succeeds, then you live—and one of your nine lives is used up. If that second roll isn’t good enough, you continue making re-rolls until you’d survive or your nine lives are used up.
(•• or ••••)
Effect: You can broadcast a false “smell” of vitae. Vampires who meet you assume you’re a ghoul until proven otherwise. If you do something out of character for a ghoul, make a (Manipulation or Composure) + Suterfuge roll against a DC of (1/2 vampire’s [Wits + Empathy or Subterfuge + Auspex]) + 1. On a setback, they see through you.
With the four-dot version of this Merit, you can pretend to be a vampire instead of a ghoul.
You can turn this Merit off if you choose. This Merit is most common among former ghouls, but hunters who infiltrate Kindred society sometimes develop it too.
(• to •••)
Effect: You’ve lost a limb or sense organ that left behind a ghostly reflection you can tap into. Choose one of the following:
|•||Ghost Eye: You lost an eye and take Disadvantage on sight-based rolls. You can spend 1 Story Point to see wraiths and other entities across the Shroud for a scene. You don’t take Disadvantage in the Underworld.|
|••||Ghost Eyes: You’re blind and can’t make sight-based rolls. Take the Senseless (Sight) Flaw. You can always see wraiths and other entities across the Shroud as though you were sighted. You can see normally in the Underworld.|
|•||Ghost Ears: You can’t hear and can’t make hearing-based rolls. Take the Senseless (Hearing) Flaw. You can hear wraiths and other entities across the Shroud as though you were not deaf, and can hear normally in the Underworld.|
|••||Ghost Foot/Leg: You’re missing a foot and need a crutch, wheelchair, or other means of getting around. This can impose Disadvantage on numerous rolls or make them impossible. Take the Lame Flaw. You can also enter the Underworld by kicking open avernian gates (portals to the Underworld) wherever you find them. Your phantom foot or leg can interact with wraiths and other entities across the Shroud as though they were physically solid (although you still cannot perceive them on you own). When you are in the Underworld, you manifest a ghostly-looking but solid limb.|
|•••||Phantom Hand/Arm: You’re missing an arm or hand and take Disadvantage on rolls for tasks that take two hands. Take the One Hand Flaw. You can use your phantom limb to touch and manipulate wraiths and other entities or objects across the Shroud as though they were physically solid (although this Merit does not give you the means to perceive them on your own). When you’re in the Underworld, you manifest a ghostly-looking but solid limb.|
Effect: A vampire has tasted your blood and developed a strong connection to you as a result. If you’re in danger, they sense it, and you can spend a Story Point to have them coincidentally arrive on the scene in time to save you. This Merit is most common among ghouls, but mortals and other supernatural beings who take a vampiric lover (with all the risks that entails) may also possess it.
Thief of Fate
Effect: You’re a magnet for fortune and fate. When you touch someone, you steal their good fortune unless you spend 1 Story Point. Within the day, something bad but nonfatal will happen to them. If they’d get into an already life-threatening situation, then something potentially fatal happens. That same day, you can grant yourself Major Advantage on a single dice roll. You can’t grant yourself Major Advantage more than once per chapter.
Drawback: When something bad happens to whoever you touch, they hear your name in the back of their head. If you touch someone expressly to inflict misfortune you couldn’t otherwise cause, whatever happens to them also turns out badly for you.
Effect: You have an innate sense of time. You can accurately estimate the current time, or passage of time (down to within a minute or two), without using a watch or other mechanical device.
(• to •••)
Effect: You have a sixth sense for the supernatural. Choose a type of night-folk, such as vampires, ghosts, werewolves, etc. You can sense when they are nearby. This sense manifests differently for everyone: your hair might stand on end, you might get a cold chill, or you might become physically ill.
|•||Whenever your chosen night-folk are nearby, you can make a Perception roll to notice. The DC is (1/2 lowest night-folk’s [Composure + Subterfuge]) + 1. You can’t pinpoint exactly where the night-folk are.|
|••||You automatically sense when your chosen night-folk are nearby. By spending a Story Point, you can pinpoint exactly where the nearby night-folk are.|
|•••||You also sense lesser night-folk associated with your chosen night-folk, such as ghouls and thin-bloods for vampires, kinfolk for werewolves, fae-touched for changelings, etc.
Regardless of your dots in this Merit, night-folk hidden from people’s mundane senses (such as a vampire under cover of Obfuscate) also take a Clash of Wills to sense, using double your Awareness as the dice pool. Roll one die if you have no Awareness.
Misc. Merits (Vampires)
These Merits don’t fall into any of the above categories. Vampire characters only.
Effect: Although vampires are typically immune to mortal drugs and poisons, there are supernatural venoms that can affect Kindred physiology. You are immune to all forms of drugs and poisons, including the venoms and toxins of supernatural creatures or those created by supernatural powers. Against poisons that originate from a source with a trait rating of 6 or more, you have Advantage on rolls to resist such a venom’s effects.
Closer than Blood
(• to ••••)
Effect: You have a mystic affinity with another Kindred not brought about through the blood bond other artificed means. Perhaps they are your Paramour and you would lay down your unlives for each other. Perhaps you’ve shared some other intimate, intensely personal experience: you might even hate them. Whatever the reason, you can sense each other’s emotions across a distance, and potentially even feel the other’s physical pain or peril. For every dot invested in this Merit, you treat your blood sympathy with this Kindred as one step closer, to a maximum of one step removed.
Effect: Your flesh and blood tastes bilious or outright putrescent. Whenever someone feeds from you, roll two dice for every total Hunger’s worth of blood they’ve stolen, against DC = (1/2 other character’s [Resolve + Stamina]) + 1. On a success, the victim messily vomits up all of your vitae in a fountain of tainted gore: take Advantage on all rolls against them for the rest of the scene from their nausea. Roll three dice and take Major Advantage against anyone who’s foolish enough to try to diablerize you. At the GM’s discretion, this Merit can also be applied against creatures that try to bite or eat you. This Merit is most common among Nosferatu, followed by Gangrel and Tzimisce, but can be found among any foul enough Kindred.
(• to •••)
Effect: This family of related Merits reduces some of the inherent drawbacks of being undead. Remember that characters can temporary reduce their Beast score in most of these areas by making Rouse checks: this Merit just lets them do so permanently, and for free.
|•||Blush of Health: You have a pallid but passably human appearance, as if you had a Beast score of 2. Your body temperature is cooler than normal and you have an irregular pulse and heartbeat. Basic medical tests show you are in ill health. You don’t take any penalties to Social rolls against mortals for having a high Beast.|
|••||Blush of Health: You have a healthy, vibrant complexion as if you had a Beast score of 1. You unconsciously keep blood circulating through your body to give yourself a pulse, heartbeat, and warm body temperature. You automatically pass basic medical tests to appear alive. In addition to taking no Social penalties against mortals, you take Advantage on rolls to pass for human.|
|•||Early Riser: You rise for the evening at nightfall, as if you had a Beast score of 2.|
|••||Early Riser: You rise for the evening at nautical twilight, as if you had a Beast score of 1.|
|•••||Early Riser: You rise for the evening at sunset.|
|•||Eat Food: You can hold down food and drink as if you had a Beast score of 2. It’s still tasteless and you must regurgitate it within the scene.|
|••||Eat Food: You can hold down food and drink as if you had a Beast score of 1. You can enjoy and savor the taste, but must regurgitate it by dawn.|
|•||Great Lay: You can engage in sexual activity as if you had a Beast score of 2. It still carries no pleasure.|
|••||Great Lay: You can engage in sexual activity as if you had a Beast score of 1. It carries pleasure but has no other mechanical benefit.|
|•||Inoffensive to Animals: Choose a type of animal, such as felines, birds, or reptiles. These animals respond to you as if you had a Beast score of 1. They don’t shy away from you or become aggressive, and you don’t take any penalty to Social rolls against them.|
|••||Inoffensive to Animals: All animals respond to you as if you had a Beast score of 1.|
Effect: In the horrific event of your diablerie, the Kindred who commits the act gains none of the benefits of diablerie (lowered generation, Disciplines, Blood Potency, etc.). Obviously, this won’t do you much good, but it is a way to give one final “Screw you!” to your murderer. And your allies can always avenge you…
Night Doctor Surgery
Effect: Anarchs have adapted a bit of real-world surgery and a little body horror into a series of morbid reconstruction techniques to help injured Kindred heal. Night Doctor Surgery helps bones reset, and speeds the knitting of flesh. With an hour of treatment, roll Intelligence + Medicine. You can spend successes to lower the penalties from the Injured Condition by 1. With GM discretion, this Merit may be used over time to make changes to facial appearance. Performing Night Doctor Surgery on yourself imposes Disadvantage on the roll. You may only make one attempt to treat a given injury.
Drawback: Knowledge of Night Doctor Surgery affords a great responsibility. If your identity is known, the Movement will call on your services frequently. For this reason, most Night Doctors use pseudonyms (usually a letter, like Dr. H), performing their services while masked.
Effect: You have tasted a non-vampire’s blood and developed a strong connection to them as a result. You know whenever they’re in danger and can spend a Story Point to coincidentally arrive on the scene in time to save them.
Allies are people you can go to for favors and assistance. They might be friends, relatives, or simple allies of convenience. Allies expect favors in return for their help, and the relationship is a basically equal one: you scratch their back and they scratch yours. An Ally holds Status (or an equivalent degree of personal aptitude) equal to (dots in this Background). If an Ally holds multiple types of Status, use the highest one to determine the Ally’s cost.
• Mortals pay one extra dot to buy lesser night-folk (hunters, ghouls, etc.) as Allies, and two extra dots to buy true night-folk (vampires, werewolves, mages, etc.) as Allies. The GM will usually not let mortal PCs knowingly buy night-folk Allies.
• Ghouls, hunters, and other lesser night-folk pay one fewer dot to buy mortals as Allies and one extra dot to buy true night-folk as Allies.
• Vampires and other true night-folk pay two fewer dots to buy mortals as Allies and one less dot to buy lesser night-folk as Allies. Most vampires buy mortals as Pawns rather than Allies.
If an Ally would cost zero dots to purchase, pay 1 XP for them instead of 2 XP. If an Ally would cost -1 dots, pay 0.5 XP for them.
Enemies are people who have it out for your character and work against their interests. The more powerful the Enemy, the more Story Points they’re likely to be worth.
A ghost, spirit, demon, or other incorporeal entity plagues your existence. You are not necessarily the entity’s anchor, although learning why an extradimensional entity has latched onto you would be interesting for all the wrong reasons. You lose this Flaw when the entity is permanently sent back to the dimension where it belongs.
Someone is following you or has a potentially dangerous interest in your activities. The person does not have to be inherently threatening but their actions have the potential to ruin your life.
Artifacts are items with supernatural powers. The number of dots in this Background determine how potent the item it is. Talk about what you want with the GM so they can create something suitable. Truly legendary Artifacts (such as Excalibur or the Ark of the Covenant) are objects of great quests, if they exist at all, and cannot be purchased with this Background.
(• to •••••)
|•||A minor artifact with notably limited or circumstantial powers.|
|••||A moderately useful artifact, likely with minor but consistently useful powers.|
|•••||A very useful artifact that regularly comes in handy.|
|••••||A potent artifact whose powers make it envied and sought by all who know of it.|
|•••••||An artifact of incredible power that people would lay down their lives for a chance to claim.|
You possess an object with a supernatural curse of some kind. Look to fantasy or horror media for any number of examples. This Flaw can be combined with the Artifact Background to represent a useful object with a significant drawback, or you can take it independently for an object with no beneficial properties.
Some sample Artifacts are presented below. Players should bear several design principles and setting truisms in mind:
• Artifacts are not commonplace among Kindred, as there is no standard method of magic item creation like there is in Werewolf, Changeling, Mage, and Wraith. Tremere don’t operate magic item foundries and sheriffs/hounds aren’t mass-equipped with magic swords. They are much more common in the other game lines.
• Artifacts that grant Advantage on dice rolls or immunity to powers should have some kind of drawback attached.
• Artifacts with “actively used” powers, like Dream’s pouch of sound (puts people to sleep when blown at them) or Dorothy’s ruby slippers (teleport home when she clicks her heels) are generally more interesting and less likely to carry drawbacks than Artifacts with static roll bonuses.
• Artifacts useful in combat are especially rare and prized, and have more flavorful powers than simply “Advantage on Melee rolls.”
• Artifacts with drawbacks can be more powerful than Artifacts without drawbacks at the same dot rating.
• Artifacts that provide immunity against powers grant blanket immunity against powers with dot ratings of five or below. They provide Advantage on rolls against powers with dot ratings of six or higher.
Eye of the Hour-Glass
A pair of old 19th century glasses that allow the wearer to see Kindred using Celerity as normal. It doesn’t grant the wearer any faster reflexes to counter the vampire, but it does allow them to be aware and unsurprised of the Celerity user’s actions. If the vampire uses a Celerity Devotion that makes them invisible except on a Clash of Wills, roll double the glasses’ dot rating (two dice) for the dice pool.
A black cloak that makes the wearer nearly invisible in darkness or shadow, granting Advantage on Stealth rolls. However, cloaks are not a common sight in public, and often draw attention.
The Griffin’s Ring
A silver earring with intricate carvings of birds and owls along the edge. When worn, it makes a bird’s cry in the wearer’s ear when they are in the presence of a vampire (about 10 or so feet). If the vampire is using Obfuscate, the GM will secretly roll a Clash of Wills for the ring, using double its dot rating (six dice) for the dice pool. (This Artifact is obviously more useful to hunters than vampires.)
The Eunuch’s Scapular
This scapular—a large length of cloth covering the front and back of the wearer—is believed to have been worn by a devout Cypriot saint who castrated himself in order to resist the temptations of the flesh. Wearing (or carrying) the scapular renders the bearer immune to Presence and similar powers of emotional control. Extended use of the scapular can make bearers unable to conceive children or achieve sexual arousal for long periods of time. Vampiric bearers become unable to induce pleasure through feeding, effectively gaining the Giovannini clan bane.
The Monkey’s Paw
(•••••, Cursed Object Flaw)
This mummified monkey’s hand can grant its owner’s wishes. Anything they want is potentially fair game. However, each wish comes with an enormous price. For example, a woman who wishes for $2,000 might receive the money after her husband dies in a work-related accident and his co-workers put something together for the man’s widow. If she uses her second wish to make her husband come home, his decaying corpse might rise from the grave as a zombie. Modest wishes and wishes that attempt to return fate to its proper course are likely to incur less terrible prices, but none of the paw’s gifts are free. After the owner makes three wishes, the paw disappears, never to return.
Domain represents a physical area of the city in which you can hunt. To the Camarilla, each domain resembles a feudal fief, held by grant from the prince or another noble Kindred; Anarch coteries more likely refer to their domain as “turf.” Either way, the principle remains the same. For every dot in this Background, take a +1 bonus on hunting rolls made within the domain. Richer domains tend to be larger, though this isn’t always the case: the French Quarter is a five-dot domain that offers the city’s best feeding, but it’s smaller than other domains like Uptown and Riverbend.
Mortals know your name and eagerly seek out news of your activities. You might be a movie star, rock star, or other celebrity. Fame grants pull in mass and social media; you have more ways than most to manipulate the thoughts of the populace. You likely (or at least, should) have ways to mask the fact that you’re never seen during the day, such as a body double.
Fame has its downside, of course—it’s harder for you to tail someone unobtrusively, for example, and who wants groupies hanging around the door to their haven all day tagging its location on Instagram? You should look into taking Disguise as a Specialty, or perhaps a False Identity.
By default, Fame applies among mortals, but you can also buy Fame that applies among Kindred for the same cost. Some vampires, such as Dracula or Elizabeth Bathory, might have both! Vampires may admire, or at least be more interested in, a Kindred who was famous or infamous in life: Arthur Rimbaud, Crispus Attucks, Billy the Kid, and the like.
You are famous for something horrible. At the very least, you take Disadvantage on non-Intimidation Social rolls against anyone who dislikes you for the actions or behaviors that made you infamous; at worst, the authorities attempt to kill or capture you whenever you appear.
You can also take Dark Secret, a milder version of Infamy. Your black deeds remain unknown to all but you and perhaps one or two very motivated enemies (or confidantes). If your Dark Secret gets out, it could blossom into true Infamy. Some example Dark Secrets can include: being a cleaver, owing a Debt to bad people, being a serial Masquerade breaker, maintaining secret ties to someone with Infamy, or being blood hunted out of another city.
(• to •••••)
Effect: You’re famous. Take a +1 bonus per Fame dot on Social rolls against people who are your fans, admirers, or otherwise impressed by your celebrity. The more dots you have in Fame, the more people it applies to, and the more doors it opens. Fame can be very useful for vampires when hunting.
|•||A select subculture knows who you are and admires you.|
|••||You are a local celebrity, recognized by a plurality of the city.|
|•••||Most people in the state know your name, at least.|
|••••||Everybody who even vaguely cares about social trends or your field knows something about you.|
|•••••||Your Fame reaches mass national or even global audiences. You are a major movie star, stadium-filling rock act, or former president.|
You have cultivated a group of vessels from whom you can feed without concern. You can use them to perform basic services, although they are neither as tightly controlled nor as loyal as Retainers. You can slake your Herd rating in Hunger each chapter without a roll. (This benefit can be shared among more than one vampire.) Overfeeding endangers your Herd, potentially dropping the rating as members die or flee. You must have at least minor interactions with your Herd before they’ll give blood freely.
|•||Several vessels. Your herd can provide some extra vitae in a pinch, but you still need to hunt.|
|••||Around half a dozen vessels. Your herd is a useful supplement to nightly hunting.|
|•••||Around a dozen vessels. You can probably get by without hunting so long as you make an effort to conserve vitae.|
|••••||Around a score of vessels. You may not even need to hunt anymore with a herd this large, so long as you aren’t spending vitae frivolously.|
|•••••||Around two score vessels. Your herd is so large that you don’t need to hunt and still have leftover vitae to use on frivolities (or leverage for favors).|
Identity Backgrounds cover what sorts of records exist about your character’s identity (real or fictional) and how easy (or hard) it is to find them.
You’ve been accused or convicted of a crime. Some examples include: an arrest without charges filed, a misdemeanor, a dishonorable military discharge, a felony, placement on a sex offender registry. Depending on the crime, this can close doors and cause all sorts of problems.
You lack proper lawful permission to be in the country in which you currently reside. You do not have a legitimate ID and are likely to be deported to your nation of origin if you are placed under arrest. You cannot hold a job unless it pays under the table.
You have run afoul of the mental health authorities and were once committed to a psychiatric institution. If you were committed against your will, this fact is noted in your records. Prospective employers, landlords and similar personnel usually look askance. This Flaw is even more problematic if you weren’t legally released, as escaped mental patients are regarded in much the same light as escaped convicts. Many people see them as little better than dangerous animals. Anyone from the police to the general public may consider you to be a potential killer, even if you have no history of violence.
You look similar to descriptions of someone else, which cause cases of mistaken identity. This can prompt numerous awkward or even dangerous situations, especially if your “twin” has a terrible reputation or is wanted for some crime.
You are currently serving the remainder of a prison sentence on parole. You have to meet with a case officer on a regular basis and are subject to random drug tests and searches of your home and person for guns, alcohol, and evidence of other illegal activities. You must also commit—or seem to commit—yourself to becoming a good citizen: maintaining a job, keeping current with debt, and other aspects of responsible life that entanglements with the supernatural make challenging.
You are an escaped prison convict or the prime suspect in a felony crime. The police actively look for you, and you cannot move openly about your usual hangouts. If you encounter cops who know that you’re wanted, they’ll call in backup and bring you in.
(•• or •••)
Effect: You know someone who looks a lot like you. Choose a single character who this Background applies to. A Retainer is the most convenient choice, as otherwise, the double may take some persuading or regard it as a favor when they act on your behalf.
|••||The double’s resemblance is close, and can fool people viewing you from a distance or who don’t know you well.|
|•••||The double is your spitting image—even people who know you well might be fooled. The double might be a twin sibling, someone who’s had plastic surgery, or the resemblance could just be a very strange coincidence.|
(• to •••)
Effect: You have a false identity, complete with documentation.
|•||You have a single fake ID and maybe a few supporting documents that can stand up to a traffic stop or similar surface scrutiny. It’s good enough to get around in daily situations, but it does not pass a background check, much less a proper investigation by the authorities.|
|••||You have a good fake identity supported with thorough paperwork and identification: a credit card, bank account, credit history, birth certificate, etc., all in your alias’ name. You can pass most form of professional investigation, as well as a state- or provincial-level background check. If you’re investigated by national police like the FBI, though, your identity swiftly unravels.|
|•••||Your identity is as real as any identity can be. It has been deeply entrenched in relevant databases, with subtle flourishes and details to make it seem real even to trained professionals. You can pass a background check with the national police: FBI, Scotland Yard, or the equivalent. If you had a military or intelligence record in life, it has been classified. It would take a truly dedicated, competent, and time-consuming search to uncover that you aren’t whom you claim to be, at least as far as your documentation is concerned.
You can buy more than one False Identity and attach different Backgrounds and Flaws to each one.
Prerequisite: False Identity •••
Effect: Someone in high places has purged your real records. You officially don’t exist. You can still have False Identities tied to fake identities.
Identity for Vampires
As stealth predators, vampires have few weapons more potent than their pretense of humanity. The lies the Kindred live constantly shadow stories, and no description of a lick should omit how they navigate mortal society—what they wear as a Mask (the Kindred name for False Identities). A good Mask explains the character’s nocturnal existence and offers plenty of opportunities to be alone with mortals.
Some vampires switch back and forth between Masks, risking deep identity confusion and slip-ups, while others forge single plausible identities and strictly adhere to them for a human lifetime before they switch, adding makeup as they “age,” and faking every aspect of life to look perfectly normal on paper. Others, such as Nosferatu or unbound vampires, forswear safety for freedom off the grid or on the streets.
Your biometrics, name, history, known associates, and aliases appear in several intelligence agency databases, flagged as a potential terrorist. Hunters can read between the lines and recognize you as a vampire. Normally only vampires can take this Flaw, although it’s possible a ghoul or even mortal could end up mistakenly flagged as a blankbody.
People know (or at least believe) you died recently and react with shock and horror if you appear among them. This Flaw also applies to any database lookups on your identity. This Flaw is also particularly common among vampires, but it can happen to anyone.
(••• or ••••)
Effect: This Background costs an extra dot for vampires and is particularly prized among them, as it lets them conduct business during the day and better keep up the semblance of a mortal life. Most vampires ghoul their doubles to keep them from aging. You don’t need to take this Background if you have a supernatural power to alter appearances.
No Identity Merits/Flaws+
By default, a recently Embraced vampire is believed to still be alive and continues to use their mortal identity. They can choose to use an alias among other Kindred, but without the protection of a Mask, tracking down their mortal identity isn’t hard. Older vampires are either presumed dead or need to explain why they haven’t aged.
(• to •••)
Effect: This Background is False Identity by another name. Many Kindred use it to blend in among the kine and maintain their personal Masquerades. In an age where the First Tradition is increasingly fragile, it’s more common than ever.
Mentors are more experienced figures who provide you with guidance, advice, and indirect aid in return for you doing things for them. A Mentor is more powerful than an Ally, but generally stays above the fray and treats you as the junior party in the relationship.
A Mentor has a number of Status dots (or equivalent degree of personal aptitude) equal to (dots in this Background + 1). If a Mentor holds multiple types of Status, use their highest Status to determine the Mentor’s cost.
Mortals: Mentor is someone moderately established in their field with Status 2, such as a tenure-track professor (Academia), resident physician (Hospital), or sergeant (Police).
Vampires: Mentor is an accomplished neonate or young ancilla with Status 2.
Mortals: Mentor is someone well-established in their field with Status 3, such as a tenured professor (Academia), attending physician (Hospital), or captain (Police).
Vampires: Mentor is an established ancilla or younger elder with Status 3.
Mortals: Mentor is someone highly in their field with Status 4, such as a department chair (Academia), chief physician (Hospital), or commander (Police).
Vampires: Mentor is an established elder or highly decorated ancilla with Status 4.
Mortals: Mentor is someone extremely accomplished in their field with Status 5, such as a dean (Academia), hospital president (Hospital), or commissioner chief (Police)
Vampires: Mentor is a highly influential elder (such as a prince) with Status 5.
Mortals: Mentor is someone inconceivably accomplished in their field with Status 6. Many categories of mortal Status don’t even go this high.
Vampires: Mentor is an extraordinarily influential elder (such as a famous prince) with Status 6.
Mortals can’t buy night-folk as Mentors (unless using one of the below variations of this Background). Lesser night-folk (ghouls, hunters, etc.) can’t buy true night-folk as Mentors (unless using one of the below variations of this Background). True night-folk (vampires, werewolves, mages, etc.) rarely buy mortals or lesser night-folk as Mentors.
• A Patron is a Mentor who’s keeping their identity secret. You don’t have to do as many immediate things in return for them, but their aid may come with a final cost (more than just a Debt) or be less reliable.
• A Guardian Angel is an anonymous Mentor who mostly limits their efforts to keeping you safe, but expects less in return.
• A Disembodied Mentor exists (or seemingly exists) in your head and can provide more frequent counsel, but can’t affect the physical world as easily if at all.
• A Domitor is a vampiric Mentor who provides vitae to their ghoul in return for service, and has Status equal to (dots in this Background). Ghouls cannot buy vampires as “normal” Mentors.
A Paramour is someone romantically involved with you: a spouse, long-term boyfriend or girlfriend, vampiric lover, etc. They’ll do bigger favors for you than Allies, but also expect bigger ones in return. The Paramour has a number of Status dots (or equivalent degree of personal aptitude) equal to (dots in this Background). If a Paramour holds multiple types of Status, use the highest one to determine the Paramour’s cost.
Mortals: Paramour is someone new or unaccomplished in their field with Status 1, such as an adjunct professor (Academia), medical intern (Hospital), or beat cop (Police).
Vampires: Paramour is a typical neonate with Status 1.
Mortals: Paramour is someone moderately established in their field with Status 2, such as a tenure-track professor (Academia), resident physician (Hospital), or sergeant (Police).
Vampires: Paramour is an accomplished neonate or young ancilla with Status 2.
Mortals: Paramour is someone well-established in their field with Status 3, such as a tenured professor (Academia), attending physician (Hospital), or captain (Police).
Vampires: Paramour is an established ancilla or younger elder with Status 3.
Mortals: Paramour is someone highly in their field with Status 4, such as a department chair (Academia), chief physician (Hospital), or commander (Police).
Vampires: Paramour is an established elder or highly decorated ancilla with Status 4.
Mortals: Paramour is someone extremely accomplished in their field with Status 5, such as a dean (Academia), hospital president (Hospital), or commissioner chief (Police)
Vampires: Paramour is a highly influential elder (such as a prince) with Status 5.
Mortals: Paramour is someone inconceivably accomplished in their field with Status 6. Many categories of mortal Status don’t even go this high.
Vampires: Paramour is an extraordinarily influential elder (such as a famous prince) with Status 6.
Paramours who have more Status than you, especially vampire ones, are likely to be domineering or dismissive and to regard you as an unequal partner in the relationship. The bigger the Status difference, the more pronounced this treatment is. Unequal enough Paramours may work better as Mentors.
Mortal PCs usually can’t knowingly buy night-folk as Paramours. Lesser night-folk (hunters, ghouls, etc.) pay an extra dot to buy true night-folk as Paramours. True night-folk usually don’t buy mortals or lesser night-folk as Paramours, but sometimes do, and pay two and one fewer dots for them, respectively.
Pawns are people you can manipulate into doing your bidding. This could be through blackmail, owed favors, supernatural control, or anything else that puts them under your thumb. Unlike Retainers, Pawns don’t work directly for you: they live their own lives and likely have access to some kind of resource that drew your interest. Like Retainers, though, Pawns can resent your control and may rebel (or be wrested away by rivals) if treated poorly. Some example Pawns are the mayor, police chief, or other institutional figure who faithfully listens to “advice” from an elder vampire who’s quietly backed their career. Pawns are more expensive than Allies, but the relationship is one where you’re unquestionably in charge. A Pawn holds Status (or an equivalent degree of personal aptitude) equal to (dots in this Background – 1). If a Pawn holds multiple types of Status, use the highest one to determine the Pawn’s cost.
Mortals: Pawn is someone completely green in their field with Status 0, such as a college student (Academia), pred-med student (Hospital), or academy trainee (Police).
Vampires: Pawn is an unaccomplished neonate with Status 0.
Mortals: Pawn is someone new or unaccomplished in their field with Status 1, such as an adjunct professor (Academia), medical intern (Hospital), or beat cop (Police).
Vampires: Pawn is a typical neonate with Status 1.
Mortals: Pawn is someone moderately established in their field with Status 2, such as a tenure-track professor (Academia), resident physician (Hospital), or sergeant (Police).
Vampires: Pawn is an accomplished neonate or young ancilla with Status 2.
Mortals: Pawn is someone well-established in their field with Status 3, such as a tenured professor (Academia), attending physician (Hospital), or captain (Police).
Vampires: Pawn is an established ancilla or younger elder with Status 3.
Mortals: Pawn is someone highly in their field with Status 4, such as a department chair (Academia), chief physician (Hospital), or commander (Police).
Vampires: Pawn is an established elder or highly decorated ancilla with Status 4.
Mortals: Pawn is someone extremely accomplished in their field with Status 5, such as a dean (Academia), hospital president (Hospital), or commissioner chief (Police)
Vampires: Pawn is a highly influential elder (such as a prince) with Status 5.
Mortals: Pawn is someone inconceivably accomplished in their field with Status 6. Many categories of mortal Status don’t even go this high.
Vampires: Pawn is an extraordinarily influential elder (such as a famous prince) with Status 6.
• Mortals pay one extra dot to buy other mortals as Pawns. They usually can’t buy night-folk as Pawns.
• Ghouls, hunters, and other lesser night-folk pay one extra dot to buy other lesser night-folk as Pawns. They usually can’t buy true night-folk as Pawns.
• Vampires and other true night-folk pay one extra dot to buy other true night-folk as Pawns and one fewer dot to buy mortals as Pawns. If a Pawn would cost zero dots to purchase, pay 1 XP for them instead of 2 XP.
Good Pawns vs. Bad Pawns: With all Pawns, players should establish what the Pawn gets out of the relationship. The GM has heard numerous pitches from prospective players who pick powerful institutional figures and say “I make them my ghoul” or “I control them through fear and psychological manipulation.” Such Pawns are rarely reliable in the long term. The wise vampire offers carrots as well as sticks so that Pawns actually want to be Pawns. For example, if you want to be in charge of a street gang and simply say “I ghoul the leader and tell him to use his soldiers as my personal muscle,” he’s going to resent such an exploitative relationship (even if he is afraid of you), and it will eat against the blood bond. If you approach the leader’s second-in-command and offer to kill his boss to make him the new boss, though, that guy owes everything he is to you. If you can provide an ongoing benefit to your association (e.g., leveraging influence over another sector of mortal society to his benefit, or simply using your undead powers to the gang’s benefit), that’s even better.
Good mortal Pawns either a) owe their position to you or b) get an ongoing benefit from associating with you. The best mortal Pawns check both those boxes. Bad mortal Pawns check neither them. The GM includes this advice because he enjoys seeing PC vampires become archetypal puppeteers behind mortal society, and is largely uninterested in running stories about Pawns who rebel because of PC mismanagement and incompetence. That’s happened in the game before, though, and will happen again if it’s the logical consequence of a PC’s actions.
Protégés are the inverse of Mentor: less experienced people you provide guidance and mentorship to. In return, Protégés follow your lead and use their talents on your behalf. Protégés are less powerful than Allies, but acknowledge you as the dominant figure in the relationship. Given enough experience and suitable mentorship, Protégés may eventually mature into Allies (think Robin becoming Nightwing). Mortal children and vampiric childer are some example Protégés.
A Protégé has a number of Status dots (or equivalent degree of personal aptitude) equal to (dots in this Background – 1). If a Protégé holds multiple types of Status, use the Protégé’s highest Status to determine their cost. You can only have a Protégé who’s of lower Status or personal aptitude than you are.
Mortals: Protégé is someone completely green in their field with Status 0, such as a college student (Academia), pred-med student (Hospital), or academy trainee (Police).
Vampires: Protégé is an unaccomplished neonate with Status 0.
Mortals: Protégé is someone new or unaccomplished in their field with Status 1, such as an adjunct professor (Academia), medical intern (Hospital), or beat cop (Police).
Vampires: Protégé is a typical neonate with Status 1.
Mortals: Protégé is someone moderately established in their field with Status 2, such as a tenure-track professor (Academia), resident physician (Hospital), or sergeant (Police).
Vampires: Protégé is an accomplished neonate or young ancilla with Status 2.
Mortals: Protégé is someone well-established in their field with Status 3, such as a tenured professor (Academia), attending physician (Hospital), or captain (Police).
Vampires: Protégé is an established ancilla or younger elder with Status 3.
Mortals: Protégé is someone highly in their field with Status 4, such as a department chair (Academia), chief physician (Hospital), or commander (Police).
Vampires: Protégé is an established elder or highly decorated ancilla with Status 4.
Mortals: Protégé is someone extremely accomplished in their field with Status 5, such as a dean (Academia), hospital president (Hospital), or commissioner chief (Police)
Vampires: Protégé is a highly influential elder (such as a prince) with Status 5.
Mortals: Protégé is someone inconceivably accomplished in their field with Status 6. Many categories of mortal Status don’t even go this high.
Vampires: Protégé is an extraordinarily influential elder (such as a famous prince) with Status 6.
Mortals can’t buy night-folk as Protégés. Lesser night-folk (ghouls, hunters, kinfolk, etc.) can’t buy true night-folk as Protégés. True night-folk (vampires, werewolves, mages, etc.) rarely bother to buy mortals or lesser night-folk as Protégés.
Wards are people your character is devoted to protecting. Wards have a talent for getting caught up in the action of stories, and they’re frequent targets of a character’s enemies if their existence is discovered. Wards are likely ignorant of the supernatural and not very skilled.
Resources covers what kind of lifestyle your character lives and how much money they have access to.
You’re broke (or close to it) and have no stable source of income. You must track every dollar that enters or leaves your possession. You still have a place to live, but you’ll probably wind up homeless if you don’t catch a break.
You didn’t catch a break. In addition to needing to track every dollar in your possession, you have no reliable place to stay. You either sleep on the streets, a homeless shelter, couch-surf with friends, or some other non-permanent arrangement.
No Resources Backgrounds/Flaws+
You’re working poor. You have enough money to afford food, rent, and other essentials, plus a few nonessentials, but you live paycheck to paycheck. Alternatively, you’re financially dependent upon someone else and have a small spending allowance.
(• to •••••)
Effect: You have some amount of disposable income. The number of dots determines how much.
|••••||Moderately wealthy: net worth in the tens of millions USD.|
|•••••||Very wealthy: net worth in the hundreds of millions USD.|
Resources is relative to where someone is in life: one dot goes a lot further for a teenager still living at home (most teens have Resources 0) than a married adult with multiple children to support.
(••••• • to ••••• •••••)
Effect: You have an obscene amount of disposable income. The following Resources levels are largely restricted to NPCs, but are included anyway for players wondering how such is priced:
|••••• •||Net worth ~$1 billion USD.|
|••••• ••||Net worth ~several billion USD.|
|••••• •••||Net worth $10+ billion USD.|
|••••• ••••||Net worth $50+ billion USD.|
|••••• •••••||Net worth $100+ billion USD.|
Retainers are subordinates who work for you (officially or unofficially). Unlike a Protégé’s more informal relationship, a Retainer likely acknowledges you as their boss, and there’s no expectation you’re grooming them for better things. Retainers aren’t as likely to grow past where they are, though, and can rebel if treated poorly. Bodyguards, drivers, personal assistants, and butlers are some example Retainers. Retainers to vampire characters are typically ghouls.
Note that a character can command subordinates through other Backgrounds like Status. For example, if you have Status (A Salon Business), you could have the day manager be a ghoul. They just won’t be trained to do anything beyond what’s typical for their job and the GM will control their stats. Making subordinates Retainers lets you customize their stats and lets them be more competent than is normal for their job. A mortal subordinate who isn’t a ghoul will also be loyal to the Background they’re associated with rather than loyal to you personally.
(• to ••••• or special)
Effect: You have one or more subordinates who work for you.
|•||A single Retainer. 40 XP to spend on their traits.|
|••||Two Retainers. 120 XP to spend on all of their traits.|
|•••||Three Retainers. 240 XP to spend on all of their traits.|
|••••||Four Retainers. 400 XP to spend on all of their traits.|
|•••••||Five Retainers. 600 XP to spend on all of their traits.|
Consult the Building Retainers page for rules on how you can spend your Retainers’ XP. If you have any unspent XP left over, give 1/20th of it back to your PC. If you want to spend additional XP on your Retainers, every 0.05 XP you spend gives you 1 XP to spend on your Retainers’ traits.
Drawback: Retainers should act as characters, not puppets. Servants who are ignored, or who are especially skilled relative to their masters, may prove less than loyal. Everything in Vampire is a tradeoff. GMs can use Retainers to add flavor to the chronicle; don’t let them or their misuse damage the story.
Prerequisite: Borrowed Retainer Flaw, Retainer
Effect: One of your ghouls is blood bound to someone else, but their domitor feeds them too, providing the ghoul with 1 Rouse check’s worth of vitae every two weeks. The ghoul doesn’t count towards your (Domain + Herd) limit.
Drawback: Expect the Retainer’s true master to be even more interfering in your affairs, and for the ghoul to be even more disregardful of your wishes: after all, this other vampire isn’t subsidizing one of “your” ghouls for free.
Effect: Your Retainer serves a master other than you. If they’re a ghoul, they’re blood bound to another vampire. Although the Retainer still does your day-to-day (or night-to-night) bidding, their real master’s orders take priority over yours. With a mild version of this Flaw, the Retainer might serve a Mentor you’re on friendly terms with and who has assigned the Retainer to help you out. With a more severe version of this Flaw, the Retainer might have express orders to spy on you, keep you from performing certain actions, and to otherwise make you toe their master’s line.
One upshot to this Flaw is that it can more easily justify powerful Retainers, including ghoul Retainers with higher Disciplines than your Blood Potency. “Hand-me-down” ghouls from older vampires can be highly valued commodities to neonates.
Effect: Your Retainer doesn’t view themselves as your subordinate. In practice, they still follow your daily (and nightly) instructions, but they’re clear that’s only because they choose to. The Retainer has their own goals and interests, and if those ever conflict with yours, the Retainer might take some serious convincing not to do things their own way. With a mild version of this Flaw, the Retainer might be someone who truly cares for you and simply doesn’t consider themselves your servant. They want you to ask them to do things instead of ordering them. With a more severe version of this Flaw, the Retainer might be actively rebellious and insubordinate, and resent the very idea of you telling them what to do. Who knows how much longer they’ll stick around.
Ghoul Retainers who have this Flaw almost certainly aren’t fully blood bound to you. Kindred society views relationships between domitors and unbound ghouls very unfavorably.
Effect: You can’t always count on your Retainer to help you out. Maybe they have a lot of outside commttments, like a demanding family or day job. Maybe they have a problem with drugs, alcohol, or mental illness. Maybe they just have terrible time management skills. For whatever reason, they’re not always available when you need them. The more severe the Flaw, the less consistently available the Retainer is.
You hold a position of authority within a group or organization. This position can be formal, informal, or some combination of both. The dot rating determines how influential a position you hold.
You’re hated by this group. Maybe you betrayed them or fought against them in the past. The group’s members actively work against you if they can. Take Major Disadvantage on many Social rolls against them. Any specific group members connected to you via other Backgrounds don’t take this penalty, but how long they’ll be able to remain your friend is an open question.
You’re not good with this group. Maybe you embarrassed them, failed, or refused to fulfill an obligation, or just pissed off the wrong people. Take Disadvantage on many Social rolls involving the group’s members except for any who are tied to you with specific Backgrounds.
No Status dots
You either have no ties to the organization or are a purely nominal member without any clout of benefit.
(• to •••••)
Effect: You are a member of an organization in good standing.
|••||Established member with seniority over the newer members.|
|•••||Mid-level leader in a large organization or the leader of a small organization.|
|••••||High-level figure in a large organization or the leader of a medium organization.|
|•••••||Leader of a large organization or the leader of a global organization’s regional division.|
Status gives you a +1 bonus on Social rolls against characters you can leverage your authority against (usually ones who hold Status in the same organization), to a maximum of +5. Rolls dealing with characters in a personal rather than organizational capacity are less likely to benefit from Status.
Status can also give you access to group facilities, resources, and funding. Dependent on the group, this could be limited by red tape and requisitioning processes. It’s also dependent on the resources the particular group has available. You can take this Background multiple times to belong to multiple organizations.
Example Types of Status
See this page for an in-depth look at the types of Status characters can purchase.
Loresheets are a special type of Background taken from V5. The mechanics function identically to the others. Most of the Loresheets from V5’s various books are available: ask the GM if there are any you want to have converted.
You are familiar with a Second Inquisition blacksite.
(• Know Secret)
You know a lick who knows a lick who knows somebody that got scooped up by creepy, suspiciously well-informed and well-armed MIB-looking dudes in unmarked black vehicles on the way into the city. Ask the GM to feed you one rumor—which may or may not be based in anything resembling reality.
(•• Know Secret)
You are the lick the other lick knows. Whether you’re a recent arrival in New Orleans who witnessed something in your travels or part of a Kindred underground railroad who helps ferry the desperate fleeing from their situations, you know what you’ve seen. Ask the GM for a solid piece of information about the weirdness you’ve witnessed.
Paranoia Strikes Deep
Maybe you were a SchreckNET administrator once. Maybe you’re a paranoid conspiracy theorist now. Maybe you’re a top-flight investigator with a million burnable alternate identities and sources all over the globe. Whatever the explanation, you know about the existence of FIRSTLIGHT and you know about their closest activities to New Orleans. Buy an Ally (Bureaucracy, Military, or Police) whose particular expertise relates to FIRSTLIGHT or related government-sponsored vampire hunting operations.
It’s My Job To Know This Stuff
You are part of the security apparatus of the Archdiocese of New Orleans—a specialist advisor to Maldonato, Savoy, or the Baron, an agent of Donovan’s, a protector employed by one of the primogen or another high-ranking member of a powerful clan—whose task encompasses ferreting out and neutralizing possible threats to the Kindred as a whole. Subsequently, you’ve had greater cause than most to discover the truth of certain disturbing rumors, including employing investigators of your own to sort fact from rumor. Consequently, you have managed to uncover considerable amounts of information about the government’s own vampire hunters, including the basic nature of their activities as they relate to New Orleans. Buy Status (••) in a relevant Kindred title or coterie, and Status (•••)among a team of investigators you use to manipulate the mortal world for the benefit of your clients.
The One That Got Away
You escaped from containment by FIRSTLIGHT government hunters. You are very likely being hunted by your former captors, who have every reason to want to retrieve you before you can go to ground or, even worse, reach others of your own kind and warn them of the horrors you’ve endured or witnessed. Fortunately for them, those horrors are not clear in your own mind, even though you have reached safety: The after-effects of rötschreck and protracted near-torpid starvation have clouded your memories of your experiences—you can only clearly recall what you saw, or heard, with the greatest effort.
Effect: You can make Intelligence + Composure rolls to remember snippets of memory from your incarceration, without having to spend Story Points or XP. You are also immune to fear-based frenzy triggered by FIRSTLIGHT.
You are a member of the Devillers family. The Devillers Loresheet is currently only available to Caroline.
One of the Family
You are a member of the family and may purchase dots in Status (Devillers Family). Status • is a child-aged sister. Status •• is an adult (or near-adult) sister. Status ••• is an older sister. Status •••• is an aunt. Status ••••• is the family matriarch.
Blood is Blood
Effect: You have blood sympathy towards the Devillers as if they were Kindred relatives. Abélia counts as your sire. Your sisters count as broodmates.
Love is Sacrifice
Familiarity and relationships with the city’s magi.
(• Know Secret)
You’ve heard a few things, about people who strange things seem to happen around. Bright-eyed kine who are more than just kine. The willworkers. Ask the GM to feed you one rumor about local mages—which may or may not be based in anything resembling reality.
Is S/He One of Them?
(• Know Secret)
Two people have caught your eye. One of them is a mage. One of them isn’t. You don’t know which is which. With some effort, you can find out. How you take advantage of your knowledge from there is up to you.
Known Faces, Owed Favors
(•• Know Secret)
You’ve discovered the identity of a local mage. You’ve had cagey but so far peaceful contact with them. In fact, you’ve even helped each other out, on occasion. You can spend Story Points to hold Debts from this mage.
You’ve done more than just trade favors with a mage—you’ve made a lasting alliance with them, and possibly more than one. You can purchase mages as Allies. An initiate is an Ally •, an apprentice is an Ally ••, a disciple is an Ally •••, an adept is an Ally ••••, and a master is an Ally •••••.
Drawback: Members of your respective societies will fear or seek to exploit your association with one another if you don’t keep it secret.
Sleeping With the Other Side
You aren’t just allies with a mage—you’ve taken one for a lover. You may purchase them as a Paramour.
Drawback: If an alliance was already secret, a romantic relationship is doubly secret. Your lover’s associates would likely shun them (or worse) for sleeping with a leech. Even if you can keep things secret, there’s always the question of whether your lover is just using you.
(• to ••••• Background)
You control a node: a wellspring of mystical energy from which mages draw quintessence. Node • is a minor node with a trickle of quintessence, while Node ••••• is a vast node and one of the most supernaturally potent sites in the region. You can’t directly use the node yourself, but mages will bargain with you for access to the site. Reduce the Story Point cost to call in Debts from mages by one dot per Node dot. If this would reduce the Debt’s cost to 0, you can call in a free Debt once per story. Reducing the cost to -1 lets you call in a free Debt twice per story, and so on.
Drawback: Mages may seek to “liberate” the site from a leech’s control if they feel bargaining with you has become overly burdensome.
You’ve managed to subject a mage to the blood bond and can purchase them as a Pawn (mages are never Retainers). An initiate mage is a Pawn •••. An apprentice mage is a Pawn ••••. A disciple mage is a Pawn •••••.
Drawback: The Awakened are not ghouls. Trying to dominate one to the same degree can backfire catastrophically. Other mages will react with outrage if they learn what you’ve done and will likely take steps to attempt to rectify the situation.
Effect: You actually were a mage prior to your Embrace. The loss of your magick is a deeply painful thing and your feelings towards your sire are likely seriously conflicted at best. However, your former state is not without benefits.
• First, you know as much about Awakened society as any recently-minted mage. You know the faces, personalities, hangouts, and common rumors about many local Awakened—and they know yours. They regard you with pity if you’ve tried to maintain good relations with them, or they fear you for your knowledge of their society’s secrets if you haven’t.
• You can’t ever call on your magick again. The Embrace shattered your Avatar. However, you can spend Story Points to play out flashbacks as a mage. You have Sphere dots equal to your Discipline dots + 3, Arete equal to your Blood Potency, Hubris equal to your Beast, and Paradox equal to your Hunger. Choose what your Avatar’s Essence was and what Tradition or Convention you belonged to.
• You may purchase Status among a former mage cabal. You’re no longer one of them, but they’ll come to your aid—and expect you to come to theirs.
• You may purchase a senior mage who taught you magick as a Mentor. Your former teacher likely deeply mourns what’s become of their apprentice, but the master-student relationship doesn’t die easily.
The Monster Dolls
Ties to the Monster Dolls.
In the Know
(• Know Secret)
You know the identity of a single Monster Doll or one of their domitors.
One of your ghouls is a member of the Monster Dolls. Buy the Status (Monster Dolls) Background for them. Status • indicates a new troupe member who hasn’t earned much respect yet. Status •• indicates an established troupe member. Status ••• is a senior troupe member who others look up to.
You have some personal clout over the Dolls. You have a say over where they perform (as well as for how much). You can sit in for “auditions” by prospective members, serve as a point of contact between them and other Kindred, and have some creative control over their performances. Buy the Status (Monster Dolls) Background for yourself. Status • indicates minor clout: you can nudge them on matters they’re not opposed to. Status •• indicates moderate clout. They listen well to what you have to say. Status ••• indicates significant clout: it’s rare the group ever tells you no. You should bring something of value to the group (such as being the domitor of a member) or have some sort of connection or hold over them to explain this Background.
More to come.
In addition to the above Loresheets, there are a number of New Orleans/Blood & Bourbon-unique ones that players and the GM have has ideas for but hasn’t yet written up. If players are interested in potentially taking any of the below, hit up the GM and he’ll do so.
• Archon (knowledge of archon-related secrets, allies/contacts among other current and retired archons/justicars, ability to throw around your status/cast doubt as to your retirement, current and former servire subordinates)
• Casquette Girls (previous casquette girls who’ve worked for you, current casquette girl as Retainer, esteem of elders for taking good care of them, secrets learned from them)
• Cemeteries (familiarity with the cemeteries, contacts/allies among the caretakers and individuals that show up after dark, ability to declare who’s dead/buried where and what they left behind, mausoleum you can use as a haven, ability to go to ground without being found)
• Ghosts (knowledge of New Orleans’ wraithly society and big names, contacts/allies among its ghosts, knowledge of portals to the Underworld, ability to declare deceased people as ghosts)
• Ghouls (goodwill among them, ability to masquerade as one of them, knowledge of independent and off the grid ghouls, contacts/allies among all levels of their society, ability to interfere with/eavesdrop upon Kindred orders to their servants)
• Katrina survivor (knowledge of events during the storm, laudation for past heroism, ability to declare how events during the storm went down, ability to declare dead Kindred are still alive/in torpor/chained up in your basement)
• Krewe of Janus (membership in the Krewe and/or knowledge of its members’ hidden identities, Kindred who owe you favors for cleaning up past mistakes)
• La Blême Terreur (knowledge of the creature’s domitor and purpose, ability to call upon it as an ally)
• Loa (loa as mentors/patrons, unique gifts they’ve bestowed, statues/allies among their mortal devotees, contacts/allies among houngans/mambos/bokors)
• Mardi Gras (access to best party spots, clout among the carnival krewes/Mardi Gras Indians, reputation as a Kindred party-thrower, contacts/allies among out of town Kindred who show up, role in planning the Kindred-exclusive festivities, knowledge of stuff that goes down/has gone down)
• Outlands/Nomads (experience surviving beyond the city proper, knowledge of the things out there, contacts/allies among other hardscrabble residents, safe house usable as haven)
• The Sabbat (past experience fighting them, knowledge of their typical actions/hot spots, familiarity with their big names, peaceful contacts or staked prisoners)
• Southron Lords (sire who was one of them/close to them, possession of historic relics and documents, knowledge of old secrets, contacts/allies among other former Southron Lords and their descendants, an owned plantation outside the city)
• Strix (previous exposure to them/experience fighting with them, non-hostile Strix contacts, faustian pacts made with them)
• True Faith (power to repel the supernatural and perform miracles that stems from supernatural devotion; not available to vampire characters)